Here are your morning headlines for Monday, May 18:
- DeWine warns restaurants about protocols;
- Outdoor restaurant seating becomes a norm once again;
- Ohio COVID-19 cases rise to nearly 28,000;
- Prisons to begin accepting inmates as state reopens;
- Inmates file lawsuit to release 15,000 from state prison system;
- Medina County District Library drafts plans to open;
- Recent law school graduates can start practicing without taking bar exam;
- Kroger to pay employees extra;
DeWine warns restaurants about protocols
Gov. Mike DeWine said state officials will do “whatever we have to do” to enforce social distancing and other protective measures if bars and restaurants fail to restrain crowds as the state eases coronavirus measures. He said Ohioans should practice social distancing like they have for the last two months. DeWine was responding to images of a packed Columbus restaurant and bar on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning. The Ohio Restaurant Association said it believed reports of establishments not operating in accord with the governor’s guidelines were “isolated incidents."
Outdoor restaurant seating becomes a norm once again
Ohio restaurants began carefully reopening outdoor seating on Friday, the next step toward resuming normal business operations under Gov. Mike DeWine’s state reopening plan. DeWine said that 90% of the state’s economy will be back online as of this weekend with Ohioans returning to offices, factories, construction jobs and retail stores. In-person dining at restaurants can resume on May 21. The Ohio Restaurant Association said four in 10 Ohio restaurants closed during the pandemic and 3% won't reopen. Nearly half of Ohio restaurants experienced economic losses of more than 70%.
Ohio COVID-19 cases rise to nearly 28,000
The Ohio Department of Health reports nearly 28,000 Ohioans have been infected with COVID-19. That’s a daily increase of nearly 450 cases. There have been more than 1,600 deaths statewide. The Ohio Department of Health's (ODH) 21-day trends show cases and deaths gradually increasing. The department also added more information about Ohio's Veterans homes — there are two state facilities in Georgetown and Sandusky. More than 20 residents have tested positive. ODH will update its data Monday afternoon.
Prisons to begin accepting inmates as state reopens
The Ohio prison system said it's going to resume accepting inmates from county jails to begin their prison sentences. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction suspended inmate intake as the coronavirus pandemic spread to try to lower the overall prison population. Despite the move, nearly 4,500 inmates system-wide have tested positive, and 60 have died. More than 570 employees have tested positive and two also died from COVID-19. A spokesperson said the state will take up to 50 inmates a day at its Correctional Reception Center and hold them a minimum of 35 days.
Inmates file lawsuit to release 15,000 from state prison system
Four Ohio inmates have filed a lawsuit to release more than 15,000 inmates from Ohio's prison system amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the suit, filed against Gov. Mike DeWine and the state's top prison official Annette Chambers-Smith, calls for some prisoners to be released to help with social distancing. The suit also seeks class-action status to represent Ohio’s entire prison system — around 48,000 inmates. Nearly one in five of the Ohio's coronavirus cases comes from the state's prison system, where nearly 4,500 inmates and more than 570 employees have been affected.
Medina County District Library drafts plans to open
Medina County District Library plans to slowly reopen its seven locations while also issuing more layoffs. Cleveland.com reports a total of 160 employees including 20 higher-up positions have been laid off. Their state revenue has been down more than $150,000 in the last two months. Currently, the library offers pick-up for those who had holds ready before closure in March. New holds can't be placed until next month. The library hopes to soon reopen book drop offs as well as a live phone service to help answer questions.
Recent law school graduates can start practicing without taking bar exam
The Ohio Supreme Court has announced that recent law school graduates may temporarily practice law in Ohio under the supervision of an experienced attorney while they wait to take the bar exam. The decision announced Thursday dovetailed with the court's decision to postpone the summer exam until September due to the coronavirus pandemic. Qualifying graduates can apply for the supervised practice option beginning June 15. Their supervisors must be attorneys in good standing who have practiced at least three years. They must take the bar in September. Their temporary practice privilege will end if they don't pass.
Kroger to pay employees extra
Just days after announcing it would end hazard pay to front-line workers, Kroger said it will give them extra pay through mid-June. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the move comes after an outcry from the grocery store’s union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International. The extra pay is $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time workers to be paid out in two installments. Hazard pay was an extra $2 per hour. The union said it will continue to push for hazard pay for as long as the pandemic continues.